Economic Darwinism

Dear Jack DeSantis and your $1,000,000.00 bonus

Posted in America, Bailout, Change, Executive Compensation, Obama, Outrage, The Big Picture by Economic Darwinism on March 25, 2009

Dear Mr Jake DeSantis,

I am writing in response to your recent Op-Ed published in the New York Times that was thinly veiled as a resignation letter.

I am proud of everything I have done for the commodity and equity divisions of A.I.G.-F.P.

What did you do? It must have been a pretty awesome year to receive a seven figure bonus. You are aware that most CEOs outside of the hyperinflated finance industry make less than that, right?

In response to this, I will now leave the company and donate my entire post-tax retention payment to those suffering from the global economic downturn. My intent is to keep none of the money myself.

Did you ever consider that perhaps you could afford to forgo your bonus this year because you received ridiculous unwarranted bonuses every year for the past 11 years? That is quite noble of you to make such a grim sacrifice.

I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to A.I.G.

Wait. You worked in finance, right? Honorable service? I’m sure the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan appreciate that. What makes you think you are entitled to describe yourself as honorable? Who are you trying to kid?

I can no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment

Yeah, when things get tough and the money machine stops pumping, it’s time to head for exit. It’s the only honorable thing to do.

Like you, I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid.

I think you might have done well for yourself by reading your letter out loud one time before publishing it. Do you see how ridiculous this is? “Honorable service” ? “Duty”? Come on, man. You got rich milking pension funds and university endowments. Don’t try coming off as a hero. You are no hero.

Having now been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down.

Does that include the commute time to your mansion in Greenwich? How many days, really, in the past 11 years were you in the office more than 12 hours? The markets open at 9:30am and close at 4:oopm.  That is 6.5 hours, what were you doing the rest of the time? Just so you know, drinks after the closing bell doesn’t count as “work”.

The profitability of the businesses with which I was associated clearly supported my compensation.

Really? What special skills did you bring to the table? What did you do that someone else could not have done? Were you personally responsible for bringing in all that money? Should the guy on the assembly line make seven figure bonuses too because of the business he is associated with?

I never received any pay resulting from the credit default swaps that are now losing so much money. I did, however, like many others here, lose a significant portion of my life savings in the form of deferred compensation invested in the capital of A.I.G.-F.P. because of those losses. In this way I have personally suffered from this controversial activity — directly as well as indirectly with the rest of the taxpayers.

Are you seriously asking us to feel sympathy for you? What is your net worth now? How many tens of millions? Do you think you honestly deserve to make 20 times what your parents made? Were you really adding that much more value to the economy than a couple of teachers? Wake up. You were a truck driver driving a truck loaded with gold and got paid based on the value of the cargo. Anyone could have done what you did.

I know that because of hard work I have benefited more than most during the economic boom and have saved enough that my family is unlikely to suffer devastating losses during the current bust.

It is this sense of entitlement coming from you and others like you that contributes to the brewing outrage felt by Americans. Keep it up.

Mr. Liddy, I wish you success in your commitment to return the money extended by the American government, and luck with the continued unwinding of the company’s diverse businesses — especially those remaining credit default swaps. I’ll continue over the short term to help make sure no balls are dropped, but after what’s happened this past week I can’t remain much longer — there is too much bad blood. I’m not sure how you will greet my resignation, but at least Attorney General Blumenthal should be relieved that I’ll leave under my own power and will not need to be “shoved out the door.”

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.


11 Responses

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  1. melinda said, on March 26, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Did you actually read this letter? And do you have any understanding, no matter how meager, of the hours and skills involved? Anyone running a large, profitable commodities and equity division (and please do NOT confuse the AIG divisions) does NOT keep market hours. Wow. That comment alone demonstrates a fundamental ignorance.

    What is called for is more knowledge and less anger. Perhaps when you cool down you might realize that cleaning up someone else’s mess IS worth compensation.

  2. econodarwinism said, on March 26, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Hi Melinda,

    Thank you for your comment.

    > Did you read the letter?

    I think it is pretty evident that I did read the letter since more than half of it was quoted in my post.

    Regarding market hours…

    I posed it as a question. Do you have an answer? I actually do work with large, profitable commodity and equity divisions. And yes, the place is cleaned out by 5pm. Where do you work?

    > What is called for is more knowledge and less anger.

    I agree on the first point, but respectfully disagree on the second. I’m doing what I can to increase knowledge about the lack of value provided by these overpaid self-deluded executives. On the second point, I think we need more anger. The American people should be, and for the most part are, outraged at the entitlement these people demonstrate.

    I agree with you that cleaning up someone else’s mess is worth compensation, but a reasonable compensation based on unique skills brought to the table. Mr DeSantis is completely disposable. Many people are more than qualified to clean up his mess at much lower compensation. The truth of this fact will become apparent in time.

  3. melinda said, on March 26, 2009 at 10:51 am

    A division of JP Morgan for 8 years. 10 hour days were the norm. Quoting does not mean understanding.

  4. econodarwinism said, on March 26, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Right. Everyone works 10 hour days. My question was how many days he was in the office more than 12 hours? You and I both know that 14 hour day (or more) are sometimes required, but he is claiming to experience that daily. I don’t buy it.

  5. econodarwinism said, on March 26, 2009 at 10:57 am

    By the way, someone who has been at JP Morgan for 8 years and is anywhere near the commodities and equities divisions probably puts them in the fraternity/sorority of overpaid people on Wall Street. I can understand your anger to see someone question that status quo.

  6. melinda said, on March 26, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Nooooo, mr. clueless. I make more money now as a freelancer / artist. But you don’t wait for information, or a deeper understanding, do you? It’s all about lashing out, isn’t it?

  7. econodarwinism said, on March 26, 2009 at 11:26 am

    With 8 years at JP Morgan, most would have enjoyed $200K bonus and above. That is outlandish and worth questioning especially in light of recent events. If you weren’t one to enjoy those extravagant bonuses (I’m not saying you didn’t), then I’m sorry to hear it.

    I am happy to hear of your success as an artist, but look around you. How are your friends and fellow artists making out? I have a sensitivity to artists and at a festival over the weekend, it was depressing to speak to them. Uniformly, the message was that they’ve been forced to reduce prices by 30% or more. If you’ve been immune, more power to you, but many artist friends of mine are hurting now.

    When real people are hurting (including my family) and people like DeSantis whine and complain about the harsh conditions they’ve experienced, I have absolutely no sympathy for them.

    What exactly about my rant (I’m allowed, it is my blog) did you not agree with? I’ve been wrong before and willingly admit it. In fact I’m happy to learn when I’m wrong about something because it means I’ve learned. Where exactly did I go wrong by not feeling sympathy for Jack’s whining letter?

  8. melinda said, on March 26, 2009 at 11:45 am

    How marvelous. Common ground. Perhaps we will have a chance to continue this discussion, but I must rush to get tax / statements out the door. (I sense some profound irony in that last sentence …. ) M

  9. econodarwinism said, on March 26, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Good luck with the taxes. I am interested in hearing what you have to say. You seem to be knowledgeable and have strong positive opinions about those who work in finance, yet you left finance to go into art. Interesting! As a result, you have no skin in the game, which increases the chance of having an interesting dialogue.

    My article was done in piecemeal, so it should be easy to pick one or two points you disagree with.

    For the record, I actually love finance and economics. I used to be a physicist, but do not feel like I’ve sacrificed anything by making the switch. Everything I loved about physics, I find in finance and more. So I am not bashing the profession. I am just of the opinion that far too many people made far too much money relative to their economic contributions and we are now seeing the results of an extended period of excess (supported by excessively loose monetary policy).

    I don’t even blame the overpaid executives. They did what they were supposed to do, i.e. maximize wealth within the confines of the law. I do think they should consider themselves lucky that the game went on as long as it did and they were able to accumulate whatever wealth they did because, for the most part, it was not justified. The sense of entitlement they portray is not warranted and they should not complain about things now that it is all crumbling down around them.

  10. Jacek said, on October 26, 2009 at 7:00 am

    it ok thanks

  11. jeux iphone said, on December 23, 2009 at 12:39 pm


    Hi, Great Post Thanks.:)…

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